Ironically enough, there was one point in my life where my doctor suggested I drink smoothies with full-fat milk and fruit to make sure I was getting the right nutrients (working long hours and stress were taking its toll on my body). I'm sharing this for all of you out there who think fruit in liquid form is always low-cal (because in case you haven't heard, it's not). Yes, low-calorie smoothies do exist, but you can't just assume every fruity, frosty beverage falls into that category. Just think about how much produce gets compressed together in the blender to make one drink. It can definitely be easy to underestimate the number of calories you're consuming at a given time.
"Calories from fruit can add up quickly, so it's good to add protein and veggies," says Laura Jeffers, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. She says that the rule of thumb is to have your smoothie be 70% vegetables and 30% fruit. Since some fruits are packed with sugar, it's also a good idea to be mindful of the types of fruit you're incorporating. For example, apples and pears are lower in carbs, so they can be great go-to's. Ready to learn which ingredients you should be putting into your Vitamix next? Here are eight delicious low-calorie smoothie recipes we've been blending up on the regular.
Meet the Expert
Laura Jeffers is a clinical manager and dietitian at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic. She has extensive experience in general pediatric nutrition, weight loss, allergies, celiac disease, and weight management.
Best Green Smoothie Recipe
Root + Revel founder Kate Kordsmeier swears that smoothies made without dairy are her trick to keeping the calories low (this drink is just 160 cals). Instead of full-fat milk or yogurt, she opts for vegan liquids like coconut water and nut milk to get her beverages creamy. This particular smoothie calls for a ton of organic spinach, frozen mango and pineapple, and some coconut water. If you want something extra, try adding in wheatgrass powder, chia seeds, and collagen protein.
A smoothie with a cauliflower base sounds interesting, right? Well, we trust Wu Haus to not steer us wrong, and so we decided to go along with this idea of a cauliflower "colada" smoothie. (It actually ended up being quite tasty.) It has fats and fiber from the cauliflower, coconut milk, papaya, coconut butter, flax seed, MCT oil, probiotic powder, and fresh kiwi. When topped with some shredded coconut, you almost feel like you're on island time.
Peanut Butter and Banana Green Smoothie
Just because you're on the hunt for something low-cal doesn't mean that you should completely deprive yourself. We all crave chocolate once in a while. Thankfully, for all of us out there with a sweet tooth, this recipe is one to rave about. One of the keys to keeping it healthy is by choosing the right peanut butter with no preservatives or added sugar. Mix it up with a frozen banana, unsweetened cacao nibs, cacao powder, unsweetened nut milk, spinach, and just a dash of chia seeds.
Detox Smoothie Recipe
This green smoothie doesn't have added sugar from fruit, plus its ingredients help you rid yourself of toxins. How? Well, cilantro has tons of antioxidants, cayenne has anti-bacterial properties, and coconut oil has good-for-you fats. Top with some flaxseed and hemp seeds, and you've got fiber and protein covered, too. Get blending.
Super Green Spirulina Smoothie
Frozen banana makes this smoothie a bit icy, but so good. It's packed with cucumber, coconut milk, and hemp seeds for protein. Add some spirulina (a type of algae that's chock-full of vitamins and minerals) and tofu for a healthy punch. If you want even more goodness, feel free to toss in protein powder, too.
Bloat-Busting Pineapple Smoothie
I know what you're thinking: This smoothie sounds good, but pineapples are sweet, so it can't be low-cal. Well, pineapple is surprisingly low-calorie (one cup is just 82 calories). That's why this pineapple, cucumber, turmeric, ginger, and coconut water smoothie is okay to have on the regular. Cucumbers reduce belly bloat while a protein in the pineapple (aka bromelain) helps with digestion.
Vitamin-C Citrus Power Smoothie
This citrusy beverage just so happens to be a smoothie-juice hybrid. Pink grapefruit, oranges, blood oranges, clementines, banana, hemp hearts, and plant milk melt together for the ultimate in refreshing drinks.
Leave out the vanilla extract so you can keep this low-cal. And we strongly suggest tossing in a few ice cubes so it's extra chilly.
Two-Minute Green Smoothie
This pretty-as-a-picture smoothie only takes two minutes to make. Yes, we were pretty darn surprised, too. The addition of avocados to a spinach-and-banana based beverage makes this simple breakfast extra creamy. Go sparingly on the extra fruit and granola to keep your calories in check.
These low-calorie smoothie recipes all look so delectable that it's a toss-up as to which one you'll want to make first. Just remember: It's okay to add some extras to your smoothie once in a while (it's all about moderation).